I’ve read a few bad reviews in my time and some of them have been ones that I’ve written. But, I like to think that since I started reviewing, which was years before UTC was created, that I have vastly improved, which, is why I am writing this post. First of all, I’m going to get the good manners stuff out the way so there is no room for misunderstandings. In this post I’m going to tell you how I like to review and the kind of reviews that I like to read . I realise that not everyone is the same and rather than being a treastise on how to review, for some of you it might be a what NOT to do guide. I am okay with that, as long as it is a guide to something! So, if I say something you disagree with, I welcome that and I would be interested in hearing how you like to do things as well, so please comment and let me know.
Now that good manners are out the way, let me show you how it’s done, or at least how I like to do it. For me, there are a few stages with some golden rules as well as a set format to how I lay out my review. Having this set format makes it easier for me to compose my review, it means that I know where I will say certain things in a way that works for me.
But, before I set pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, there is one essential thing I always do, which may sound obvious, but is all part of my process. And that is:
REFLECT & MUSE
Which is just a fancy way of saying that I sit and think about what I have just read. Admittedly, some books require more reflection than others. The Shadows by J.R. Ward had me eager to start writing a review, I had so much to say! Yet, what I actually needed to do first was sit back and process my feelings and thoughts before a single word could be written, otherwise it would all be just a jumbled mess of my emotions, without much coherence or deeper thought. Of course, there are books that don’t require much deeper reflection and that’s not an insult to the author, when I read a sweet contemporary romance where my feelings aren’t hugely invested and it was just a nice read to pass time with, there isn’t much processing needed.
Nevertheless, whether the book is a huge emotional roller-coaster, or just a nice easy read, I would also sit and think, and here are some key points I would think about:
Did I like the main characters? What did I like? What did I not like? Did I identify with them?
Story line – Was it exciting? Interesting? Pointless? Contrived? Make sense? Did I like the world building?
Romance – Did the characters have chemistry? Was it believable? Were the sex scenes good?
Writing style – Did I like the authors style? Was it too wordy, too simple? Good editing?
Those are just a few thoughts and depending on the book and genre you may have things that you add, or take away. Notice I said in the last point about good editing, I know this is not the author, but bad editing or no editing at all can make a difference. If some bad grammar or spelling isn’t picked up, it can interrupt my flow whilst reading the book and this could be reflected in my rating if it happens often enough.
But, no matter what the book, whether it took you a few hours or a few days, whether it left you with tears in your eyes, a smile on your face or completely unmoved, it’s still worth taking a deep breath and gathering your thoughts before committing anything to paper or computer screen.
I always have a set structure with my reviews…which I mostly follow. But, if I have a particularly difficult book to review, then knowing how I want to frame my thoughts is always useful. So here is how I like to do it:
Paragraph One – The Blurb
A quick blurb of the book, I know there is an official blurb, and I guess you could copy that, but normally I like to do my own version, it allows me to think about the book again before I start commenting on it. Now, I have a GOLDEN RULE for this part: NO SPOILERS. My blurb of the book will tell not tell you anymore than the official blurb, it will just rehash it in my own words.
Paragraph Two – Free For All
I’m a rambler. And this is the part of my review where I allow myself to blurt out whatever is on my mind, usually related to the book in question…but not always, although I do try and connect back, even if it is a little obscure. This will be where I unload my initial general thoughts after I have finished reading and generally have a good old waffle.
Paragraph Three & Four – The Meaty Bit
Ahhh, so finally we come round to what I think about the actual book. I will use these two paragraphs to talk about whatever I liked and disliked about the book. Normally drawn from the points I reflected on before I started writing. It sounds easy right? Well, it can be. If I absolutely detested a book, I find the review very easy to write…and it may turn a little ranty and all my paragraphs fill up quickly. However, it’s those mediocre books you have to watch out for, the okay ones that were nice to pass the time, but you will forget as soon as you move on. They. Are. Killer. Which, is why it is essential that you do abit of reflection as soon as you finish reading…you need to find something to write about!
Paragraph Five – The End
Ah the conclusion. I like to sum up my feelings as a whole in a few sentences and make a decision on whether I would recommend it and (if applicable) I would read the next book in the series.
Of course, there are many a review where I have completely discarded the above structure and just went on a free for all! Normally this happens when I feel really strongly about a book, whether it’s loving it or hating it. Or just when I want to try out something new, which sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t…but it’s always fun to try.
THE GOLDEN RULES
So you have my process for writing reviews, and I have shared with you one of my GOLDEN RULES, but I have a couple and I always abide by these:
(I hate spoilers in reviews when I read so I never give them out)
(always be honest – doesn’t matter if everyone loves the book and you want to use it for toilet paper, say how you fell (constructively of course!) I guarantee you aren’t the only one who feels that way AKA don’t be a sheep!)
DO NOT GET PERSONAL AND INSULT THE AUTHOR NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU HATE THE BOOK
(or as I like to say – don’t be a twat – be a professional)
CHECK SPELLING & GRAMMAR
(pretty sure I make spelling and grammar errors regularly – but it would be even worse if I didn’t always double check!)
TRY AND BE INTERESTING – IF YOU FEEL LIKE TRYING SOMETHING NEW DO IT!
DO YOU HAVE A PROCESS FOR YOU REVIEWS? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW
Now are you ready to get these giveaways started?
One winner will take home:
WHITE TIGER by Jennifer Ashley
NEVER LET YOU GO by Monica Murphy
BROKEN JULIET by Leisa Rayven
SINNER’S CREED by Kim Jones
4 Winners, each will get a massive bundle of books!
Winners will be randomly picked from the Rafflecopter below.
DARE TO RUN by Jen McLaughlin
SPIDER GAME by Christine Feehan
DANGEROUSLY BROKEN by Eden Bradley
EVERYTHING I LEFT UNSAID by M. O’Keefe
NEVER TEAR US APART by Monica Murphy (ARC paperback version)
PERFECT BETRAYAL by Season Vining
BAD ROMEO by Leisa Rayven (Signed)
THE BEAUTIFUL ASHES by Jeaniene Frost (Signed)
THE ART OF TAMING A RAKE by Nicole Jordan
DARING IN A BLUE DRESS by Katie MacAlister
THE GIRL IN 6E by A.R. Torre
DO NOT DISTURB by A.R. Torre
JUST THIS NIGHT by Mari Madison (ARC paperback version)
DOMINATED by Maya Banks (ARC paperback version)
THE EXHIBITIONIST by Tara Sue Me
TOUGH ENOUGH by M. Leighton
DARKNESS by Karen Robards
SWEET RUIN by Kresley Cole
LAST MILE by Katie Ashley
MINE by HelenKay Dimon
UP IN FLAMES by Abbi Glines (ARC paperback version)
EXPOSED by Brighton Walsh
LOVE OF THE GAME by Lori Wilde
RIDE HARD by Laura Kaye
FILTHY RICH by Virna DePaul
A LADY BY MIDNIGHT by Tessa Dare (Signed)
BROKEDOWN COWBOY by Maisey Yates
THE MASTER by Tara Sue Me
THE SHADOW by Sylvain Reynard
SWEET AS SIN by J.T. Geissinger (Signed)
THE UNTAMED EARL by Valerie Bowman (ARC paperback version)
RIVAL FORCES by D.D. Ayres (ARC paperback version)
DARK PROMISES by Christine Feehan
Annnnnd I will stop myself there, before I start waxing lyrical about my love of historical romance and fantasy as well; no one needs to know about my elf fantasies. As you can tell, I adore and day dream about most romance genres, and my three big loves are 1) reading about romance 2) writing about romance and 3) talking about romance with my gals. Which, is why I love Under the Covers so much, I get all my bookish needs satisfied and don’t get judged when I talk about my favourite characters like they are real people. Which they are right?